North of Ireland Cycle

I wanted to test if my bike, my equipment and my body were up to the challenge of cycling long days one after the other. So I asked my friend Chuck (who I cycled across Spain with) if he was interested in a tour of the North of Ireland. We decided to set aside 6 days and Cycle Galway to Dublin via Sligo, Letterkenny, Malin Head, Derry, Castlerock and Belfast. If we felt fresh enough at the end of all that we would cycle from Dublin to Galway. At the end of it all we didn't feel that fresh. 

Day 1: Galway – Sligo

Time: 5:28:24
Distance: 140km
Average Speed 25.5 km/h

After taking ages to pack I had a massive fry and then went to Chuck's house for coffee. It was  raining pretty heavily so we waited until 11.30 when it had eased off a bit to make a move. 
The roads from Galway to Tuam are pretty bad but once we got past there they improved a bit. The  wind was in our faces most of the day and there isn't a whole lot to see on the route.
We stayed with my brother Stephen in Sligo. Most people in the house had just finished exams so  there was a great sing song and not much sleep. Good craic though.

Day 2: Sligo – Letterkenny

Time: 4:24:40
Distance: 112.2km
Average Speed 25.4 km/h

We left Sligo at around 10am. The sun was shining all the way to Bundoran as we passed Ben  Bulben. After Bundoran we caught up with a group doing the Mizen to Malin cycle for charity. 
After having a look around town, a feed and a pint of Guinness we met our friend from college,  Damien McClafferty for a few beers. 

Day 3: Letterkenny – Malin Head – Derry
Time: 6:24:31
Distance: 143.31km
Average Speed 22.3 km/h

I started to suffer a bit on the way to Malin Head. The wind and rain was taking it's toll. We  arrived in Malin Head at around the same time as the Mizen to Malin group. They had a van   organised selling coffee and cake. It was much appreciated. There isn't much to do on Malin head  to be honest. The journey there is the best part with beautiful scenery. 
We arrived in Derry an hour or 2 later. There was a bomb scare near our hostel which meant a few  of the roads were closed so we had to figure out a way to get around it using some other  streets. The Paddy's Palace hostel had a great atmosphere with a lot of groups from different  countries staying there. We walked around the city walls for a while and then went to a pub.

Day 4: Derry – Castlerock

Time: 2:30:55
Distance: 57.38km
Average Speed 22.8 km/h

This was our shortest day of the trip. It was almost a rest day and it gave me the  chance to see the Giant's Causeway. We got a taxi from Castlerock to the Causeway with a driver  called Toni who offered me a can of Foster's out of the glove box a few minutes into the  journey. The weather was fantastic and the sea was calm so it was easy to walk down right to the  end of the Causeway safely. Toni brought us back to our hostel in Downhill which was just  outside Castlerock. It was one of the finest hostels I've ever stayed in and was beside a  magnificant beach. The owner helped me out with some bike maintenance the next day and told me he had done a similar bike trip back in the day.

Day 5: Castlerock – Belfast

Time: 6:19:02
Distance: 138.37km
Average Speed 21.8 km/h

We expected a tailwind since we had been cycling into the wind for 4 days now. The opposite  happened which set us up for one of the toughest days of the trip.
After getting lost shortly after Coleraine and losing almost an hour we arrived in Portglenone.  Taking a wrong turn really knocks the spirit out of you on a bike so we took a rest in the town  square. One of the owners of a bike shop in the town ( came out and offered  us a cup of coffee and some biscuits. That really boosted the morale and the rest of the way to  Belfast went pretty well. 
In Belfast we got a bit lost again trying to find Chuck's aunt's house. On the positive side I  got to see a lot of the city and went through a few of the areas with paintings of men with guns  on the walls. When we landed at the house we were greeted with a warm welcome, beef stew, beer,  fruit salad and a shower. It was unbelievable. I didn't make it into Belfast that night as I was  exhausted from the day and I had one eye on the longest part of our trip. Belfast to Dublin. 

Day 6: Belfast – Dublin

Time: 7:10:55
Distance: 177.32km
Average Speed 24.6 km/h

This was actually not the hardest of days on the bike. There wasn't much wind to speak of and  the roads were excellent until we got close to Dublin. We arrived after my longest day in the  saddle on O'Connell street where I considered my trip finished. The night finished with 2€ drinks in a club on  Harcourt St. I spent the next day as a tourist in Dublin City Centre. 

Total trip distance: 768.58km

1 comment:

  1. "It was one of the finest hostels I've ever stayed in and was beside a magnificant beach"